Forget the typical tourist traps and highly commercialized venues.
Pennsylvania's charm is in locations richly genuine, says an expert. And she just told the world that the town of Tamaqua is a prime example.
The Schuylkill County community ranks No. 2 on a list of the top 10 reasons to visit the commonwealth, according to award-winning travel author and writer Judith Fein.
Fein, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a noted world travel blogger for The Huffington Post. The wildly popular online publication was launched in 2005 and is the first U.S. commercially run digital media outlet to win a Pulitzer Prize.
On Saturday, May 25, Fein published a special article called "Ten Reasons to Love Pennsylvania."
Number two on the list is Tamaqua. Fein touts the town as a must-see destination for those into Victoriana and flowers.
She wrote: "In Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, the 'Tulip House,' as it is affectionately called by locals, could make earth worms sit up and take notice. In this historic anthracite coal mining town, where 80 Victorian facades have been restored to the glory of former coal baron days, a rather reclusive woman spends much of her life tending her front and backyard gardens and adorning them with thousands upon thousands of color-coordinated flowers. In the summer, petunias bloom. In the winter, mums. And when I was there, it was tulip time. I stepped from my car and beheld a sea of pink, purple, mauve, fuscia and lilac-hued tulips. I am not a flower person, but I instantly became one."
Tamaqua is in good company on Fein's list of recommended destinations. For example, number one on Fein's itinerary is the center of state government: "The State Capitol building in Harrisburg is arguably the most beautiful capitol in the U.S. The dome is an homage to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the staircase is modeled after the one in the Paris opera," she points out.
Rounding out the list, from number three onward are: Bethlehem and its Moravian tour; Easton and its Porter's Pub and breweriana; Lancaster County Amish country; the Wheatland home of President Buchanan the only bachelor president; the Nemacolins Woodlands Resort and Spa; the George Washington-related history on the tour at Wilderness Voyagers of Ohiopyle; and, finally, Avella, Pa., and its Meadowcroft Rock Shelter, the oldest inhabited site in North America.
Closer to home, Tamaqua's notoriety is striking an especially harmonious chord with those who've worked long and hard to make improvements in the Land of Running Water.
Linda Yulanavage, executive director, Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce, was delighted to read the blog and to see her town garner worldwide attention.
"I had the pleasure of giving the author and her husband a whirlwind tour of Tamaqua a few weeks ago." Yulanavage said. "What a lovely couple who are professional travelers who write about their adventures. They were impressed with everything that's been accomplished here and I'm sure they will be back for a longer return visit."
The major nod by Judith Fein in The Huffington Post is seen as a feather in Tamaqua's cap and further validation of a 20-year-overhaul that has transformed the town from an old coal and railroad center to a reinvigorated community proud to showcase its heritage.
"This is the fun part of my job with the Chamber," says Yulanavage, "showing off Tamaqua and all that has happened here."
In fact, Fein was so taken with the town that she indicated that Tamaqua will receive additional press in the future.
Tamaqua is winning accolades as an up and coming place of which to take note, and it is beginning to pay dividends, according to the Chamber.
For instance, there are indications that a metropolitan walking group will bring its members to the community in the fall to spend a day in the Tamaqua National Historic District. Details will be announced in the TIMES NEWS.